Appellate Court Expunges Stanley Howard's Arrest Records

The Illinois State Appellate Court has issued an opinion reversing the circuit court of cook county's denial of Stanley Howard's petition to expunge records of his arrest for a crime for which he was pardoned by Governor Ryan. Howard was arrested on November 1, 1984 by Chicago police officers for a number of crimes, including murder, attempted robbery, and kidnapping. Howard was tried for the various crimes and was found guilty of the attempted robbery and murder charges and was sentenced to death. In post conviction proceedings, Howard claimed his confession at trial on the murder charge resulted from police torture. On January 10, 2003, prior to resolution of his post conviction claim, Howard received a full pardon from Governor Ryan based on innocence. Howard subsequently petitioned to expunge the record of his arrest for his murder conviction under subsection 5(c) of the Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5(c)). The State objected to Howard's request, contending the Criminal Identification Act did not permit expungement of arrest records when the petitioner had other convictions.  The circuit court denied Howard's petition for expungement. On appeal, the court reversed, finding that the legislature intended for the wrongfully convicted to receive automatic expungements.